Ernest Hecht

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Ernest Hecht is a publisher, producer, and philanthropist and the founder, owner and managing director of Souvenir Press Ltd, the last remaining independently owned major publishing house in Great Britain.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in 1929 in Czechoslovakia, Ernest Hecht arrived in Britain as a Kindertransport child in 1939. He was evacuated to Wiltshire, then to Minehead, Somerset. He read Economics and Commerce at Hull University College.


Hecht started Souvenir Press in 1951 in his bedroom with a loan of £250. He built the business up, and has now successfully run the company for sixty years. Souvenir press now has over 500 titles in print and has had number one bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic. He has published five Nobel laureates, including Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.[2] He received the British Book Awards Lifetime Achievement award in 2001 and has been a chairman of the Society of Bookmen.


Souvenir Press also presented many theatrical productions, including Uproar in the house with Brian Rix, Joan Sims, and Nicholas Parsons; Sign here please by Valentin Katev, adapted by Marty Feldman; with Terry Scott, Peter Jones and Ambrosine Philpotts; and most recently The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy; with Sinéad Cusack, Harriet Walter, Jan Watson, Lynn Farleigh and Barb Jungr.

The Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation[edit]

Setup in 2003, the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation has the aim of providing financial and practical assistance that can "make a difference". The Foundation aims to support the work of other charitable organisations in helping the disadvantaged and promoting the advancement of the arts and education by making grants, with the aim of making a difference in a particular field.[3]


Hecht's awards include the Neruda Medal presented by the Chilean government, and an honorary fellowship of University College London, in 2006.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He continues to live and work in London where he is a long-standing supporter of Arsenal F.C.[1] He was the literary agent of Pele and found the time to attend nine of the past 11 World Cup finals by 2002.[5]


  1. ^ a b Foot, Tom (5 May 2006). "Celebrating the voices which sang the changes". Camden New Journal. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ Cowley, Jason (November 11, 2000). "The last of the literary entrepreneurs". The Times. Retrieved November 05, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation accounts". Charity Commission. 27 Oct 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ "UCL Fellowships conferred". University College London. 22 June 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  5. ^ Hecht, Ernest (28 January 2002). "Beautiful game". New Statesman. Retrieved November 5, 2011. 

UCL News Jason Cowley interview, 2000 { Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation]

External links[edit]